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Lost Souls

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Album Review

It's tempting to call Spaccanapoli an Italian folk-rock band, since they employ some electric instruments to fatten up their acoustic sound and there's a judicious use of sampling — the modern touch that's almost universal. But to pigeonhole them so readily doesn't do them justice. Their music is redolent of their native Naples in its use of the traditional tarantella and tummurriata dances, whose southern Italian origins are misty. But more than that, they're as political as, say, Chumbawamba or Negativland; "Sant' Anastasia," for example, flails against the rich bosses as much as an old folk song, and "A'Ferriera" is a chilling tale of a dead ironworker. But they do have more strings to their bow, however: "Santa Notte," which closes the record on a mostly instrumental note, offers its comforting touch of religion, while the traditional "O'Rinillo O'Rinillo" is a call to the tarantella, a dance of spirituality. All the sides of the band's personality come together in the title track, another traditional piece whose lyrics — about the unknown dead — have a very contemporary political relevance, and whose music reinvents the song for a new audience. Monica Pinto is a wonderful vocalist with a flowing sensuality to her voice, and Antonio Fraioli anchors the band to their strong folk roots, while giving plenty of space to Oscar Montalbano and Emilio De Matteo to build their thicker sound structures on top. A great record which wears its heart firmly pinned on its sleeve.


Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Not too many bands are named for streets. Even fewer are named for streets that no longer exist. But for Spaccanapoli, even a name is a political act against the gentrification that has changed their hometown of Naples. The area called "Spaccanapoli," in the center of town, used to be a haven for thieves and prostitutes, but it was razed, and in its place came upscale shopping stores -- one of the many things the band rails against. The five-piece group, which focuses musically on the roots music...
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Lost Souls, Spaccanapoli
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